The lens actin filament cytoskeleton: Diverse structures for complex functions

Exp Eye Res. 2017 Mar;156:58-71. doi: 10.1016/j.exer.2016.03.005. Epub 2016 Mar 10.


The eye lens is a transparent and avascular organ in the front of the eye that is responsible for focusing light onto the retina in order to transmit a clear image. A monolayer of epithelial cells covers the anterior hemisphere of the lens, and the bulk of the lens is made up of elongated and differentiated fiber cells. Lens fiber cells are very long and thin cells that are supported by sophisticated cytoskeletal networks, including actin filaments at cell junctions and the spectrin-actin network of the membrane skeleton. In this review, we highlight the proteins that regulate diverse actin filament networks in the lens and discuss how these actin cytoskeletal structures assemble and function in epithelial and fiber cells. We then discuss methods that have been used to study actin in the lens and unanswered questions that can be addressed with novel techniques.

Keywords: Actin binding proteins; Actin dynamics; Cytoskeleton; Fiber cell; Lens development; Membrane skeleton; Myosin; Tropomodulin.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Lens, Crystalline / cytology
  • Lens, Crystalline / embryology*
  • Lens, Crystalline / growth & development
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism


  • Microfilament Proteins